Seen as merely transportation by outsiders, motorcycling draws all kinds of people from all walks of life. Riding on two wheels with exposure to the elements of Mother Nature can be invigorating and exciting, while for some it allows for reflection and meditation. Some enjoy the solitude, while others bask in the brotherhood of what is less a hobby than it is a way of life.
Brothers and motorcycle enthusiasts, Casey and Corey Wilkinson set out on a trip to Deal’s Gap in North Carolina. More than that, they wanted to discover and document what attracted riders to The Gap and to riding in general. Nestled amid the Great Smoky Mountains National Park resides 318 curves in 11 miles known as Deal’s Gap or The Tail of the Dragon, as it is also known. Rich with beautiful scenery and challenging curves, the stretch of road is almost like a public racetrack that has become a haven for motorcycle enthusiasts.
Often campy and lighthearted, this film also provides heart-warming tales of a father and son bonding over a common interest as well as a moving story behind a grieving father who carries on his daughter’s memory by recounting her courageous battle with cancer, for whom riding was a much needed source of solace and strength.
Why They Ride effectively documents the infatuation and enthusiasm that surrounds a lifestyle that is known for its loyal, passionate and most of all, eclectic following.
The “Moto-Documentary” also serves as an instructional manual for those uninitiated with The Gap. Experienced ‘Dragon Slayers’ provide sage advice to those who tempt their fate. Firstly, go at your own pace and don’t be concerned with how fast or slow other people are riding around you. Whether riding a Road King or R1, everyone is there for their own reason so it is best not to get caught up with what everyone else is doing. Some are there to take in the scenery and enjoy the atmosphere, while others are there to challenge themselves and their motorcycles. Secondly, but equally as important, stay in your own lane. Keep in mind that this is still a public road shared by everything from station wagons to RV’s and transport trucks so you never know what will be coming around the next bend.
The film also effectively warns riders against getting too carried away. There are few if any recovery areas, so small mistakes can quickly and easily become disastrous. Riders are reminded that this is a thankless road that demands respect - those who acknowledge that are rewarded, those who don’t pay the price. The roads are twisty and challenging but riding within your limits will mean the difference between triumph and defeat. A quote shown in the film provides a perfect example of what those boundaries are; “The speed limit is enforced more by the laws of physics than those of man.”
More than simply a road and more than just transportation, this film digs deeper to find the many reasons people have for sharing a common passion. Set to great music and full of interesting characters, Why They Ride would make an entertaining film for anyone who has motorcycling in their blood. Much like the act of motorcycling itself, Why They Ride is better experienced than explained.